Weekend protests in Lakeland, FL

Lakeland, FL Black Lives Matter protest | Photo by @marymarshmedia

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Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters attended a peaceful protest in downtown Lakeland in order to pay tribute to George Floyd — an unarmed black man who was killed by a police officer during an arrest in Minneapolis last week — and advocate for racial equality.

Local reaction

Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., 300+ people showed up for the Black Lives Matter rally to march in Munn Park. Protesters walked around the historic downtown square holding hand-written signs and breaking out into group chanting, all the while carrying out a peaceful protest. There were no uniformed police officers around the area, however, law enforcement was observing the event, according to Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia.

See a recap video by Loud Life Productions of Lakeland’s Black Lives Matter protest here.

As the day advanced, cities across FL entered into a night of unrestful disruption, including burglaries at 40 businesses in Tampa, and fires getting set onto a gas station and a clothing store.

Lakeland’s events began escalating around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday when a crowd of roughly 150 people congregated around the Memorial Blvd. and Florida Ave. intersection, blocking traffic. This developed into an incident involving a sedan hitting a woman, as the driver tried to move past the crowd. The situation remained tense before police arrived and eventually used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd declared a local state of emergency + issued a countywide curfew for Sunday evening from 10 p.m.-5 a.m., and later extended the curfew until 5 a.m. this morning.

Note: Lakeland City Manager Tony Delgado will have the authority to declare curfews on a day-to-day basis until June 7. Stay informed on potential curfew extensions here.

Share your voice

Now, we want to know what questions you have about the protests or paths forward for the city. What do you want to know? What information can we provide? How can we best utilize our platform to facilitate and elevate meaningful dialogue? You can share your thoughts and questions below.

We’d also love to hear your perspective, especially if you’re a black community member, via our Voices platform, where we turn the mic over to youour diverse and vibrant community – to share your take on how our community can better facilitate conversations on these important topics.

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– LALtoday team (Abby and Kaylee)

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